St. Johns Riverkeeper

Edie Widder / Via St. Johns Riverkeeper

South Florida’s lakes and rivers aren’t the only waterways in the state experiencing toxic algal blooms.

Developer Drops Julington-Durbin Creek Land Swap Plan

Jun 28, 2018
Adam Arendell

A developer is abandoning a controversial land swap involving 403 acres of environmentally sensitive land on Black Hammock Island and a plan to develop a like-size tract in the Julington-Durbin Preserve. Instead, he intends to sell the Black Hammock land to the state for conservation. 

Kevin Meerschaert / WJCT

Thursday on First Coast Connect we were joined by St. John Riverkeeper Advocacy Director Shannon Blankenship and Outreach Director Kelly Patton to talk about their series of town meetings beginning Thursday dealing with the dangers of rising water levels in the river (01:05).  

Will Dickey

Wednesday on First Coast Connect with guest host Ryan Benk we heard about a controversial preservation land swap proposal by Bartram Park Developer Tom Dodson in which the state would give him back about 400 acres at theJulington-Durbin Peninsula in return for the state receiving about 400 acres on Black Hammock Island.

Kevin Meerschaert / WJCT


Wednesday on First Coast Connect we spoke with Jacksonville City Councilman Garrett Dennis (01:16).

Our Going Green segment featured Shannon Blankenship and Kelly Patton with the St. Johns Riverkeeper. They discussed their upcoming Great St Johns River Campout (29:06).

This month’s Women with Heart for Volunteers in Medicine featured Dr. Estrellita Redmon, President of St. Vincent’s Medical Group (37:57).   

We spoke with local actor, producer and author Nick Loren about his latest children’s book (46:00).

Friday on First Coast Connect our weekly Media Roundtable featured Folio Weekly Editor Claire Goforth, WJCT contributor and board member Charles Griggs and Florida Politics Reporter A.G Gancarski. (01:17).

We spoke with Scott Meyer who operates Congaree and Penn farm about the upcoming Olive Weekend (38:50).

Musician and Florida native Ben Sparaco performed live in-studio (46:00).  


Contributed Photo

A federal judge Friday rejected attempts by the St. Johns Riverkeeper to temporarily halt JAXPORT’s proposed deepening of a section of the St. Johns River.

Kevin Meerschaert / WJCT

Wednesday on First Coast Connect we spoke with St. Johns Riverkeeper Lisa Rinaman about an injunction the group filed to postpone the dredging of the St. Johns River (01:01).

North Florida Transportation Planning Organization spokesperson Marci Larson talked about a survey of the region’s residents being conducted regarding their traffic and transportation concerns in the area (30:05).

Singer-songwriter DeSean Kirkland joined the show to tell us about an upcoming Christmas concert and to perform live in-studio (46:00). 


Peter Haden / WJCT

Update 1:08 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 6: This story has been updated to include comment from JAXPORT.

An injunction filed Monday is seeking to stop the first phase of deepening the St. Johns River until further studies are conducted.

The Riverkeeper argues the project requires more analysis after Hurricane Irma.

The legal motion is in addition to an existing Riverkeeper lawsuit against the JAXPORT dredging project already making its way through the courts.


St. Johns River Taxi

Sen. Rob Bradley’s, R-Orange Park, proposal to increase funding for the St. Johns River, springs and the Keystone Heights Lake Region cleared its first legislative hurdle Monday, gaining unanimous approval from the Senate’s Environmental Preservation and Conservation Committee. Bradley is the chairman.


Lindsey Kilbride

This year’s State of the River Report concludes there’s a lot of room for improvement when it comes to some nutrients and pollutants that cause toxic algal blooms, including chlorophyll and fecal coliform. That’s even though levels of certain pollutants like phosphorus and nitrogen, have been trending downward in the last 10 years.


Thursday on “First Coast Connect” we spoke with St. Johns Riverkeeper Lisa Rinaman about the dangers to the river and its tributaries due to Hurricane Irma (01:10).

Tim Brack, Medtronic’s Ear, Nose and Throat division marketing manager told us about treatments for the sinus condition known as Chronic Rhinosinustis or CRS (31:52).

We also heard about two upcoming events connected to Volunteers in Medicine.

Noor Ashouri is the Director of Marketing with First Coast Cardiovascular and Aimee Boggs is with Raymond James. You’ll learn more about Volunteers in Medicine’s Women with Heart for September (39:43). 


KEVIN MEERSCHAERT / WJCT News

Jacksonville City Council President Anna Lopez Brosche said in a letter she will not be convening a public workshop about JAXPORT’s deepening of the St. Johns River to make way for larger cargo ships.

The annual Swim Shorts Film Festival is happening for the second year at Jacksonville’s Sun-Ray Cinema on Aug. 16.

The film fest is a fundraiser for the St. Johns Riverkeeper, a nonprofit environmental watchdog group.

“We just want people to participate and have fun,” said festival organizer Laura Bearl on “First Coast Connect” Monday.

KEVIN MEERSCHAERT / WJCT News

Florida Sen. Bill Nelson is optimistic a St. Johns River dredging project will bring big business into JAXPORT. The Florida Democrat’s support for the deepening goes against the concerns of local environmentalists, as the St. Johns Riverkeeper is suing over potential environmental impacts.     


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